OLIVIA FOSTER, TRUMPET NEWS WRITER
Orange Connection, a career mentoring experience hosted by Pathways and the Alumni Office, is moving to a virtual setting on April 28 due to COVID-19.
This spring, 25 students will participate. Previously, participation has averaged 15-25 participants.
In past years, Orange Connection has taken place in the Cedar Valley during the fall and in Des Moines for the spring experience. This spring will be the first time Orange Connection has happened since the fall of 2019.
“It is a great opportunity to connect with alumni and learn more about their occupations,” Pedro Martinez, a first-year student, said. Martinez is currently on the pre-medical track at Wartburg. “Orange Connection will allow me to ask questions and learn about a specific occupation that I am interested in from a different perspective.”
This year, participating students will meet with alumni in their fields over Zoom.
“Orange Connection is normally a three-day experience, but with COVID, we had to adjust like most things did,” Veronica Reece, the Director for Orange Connection, said. “I think that this shows how powerful virtual experiences can be.”
Several changes have been made so that students can get the most out of their experience. Each student will be able to meet with two Wartburg alumni for 45 minutes instead of shadowing one for a day and staying overnight with a different alumi.
The visits will also be individual, rather than a group of students visiting the workplace of an alumni, which was the format in past years.
“Being able to go to an actual workplace and learn about what I wanted and didn’t want for my career was a super helpful aspect of the in-person job shadowing,” Andrea Salow, a third-year business administration student who participated in Orange Connection during the spring of her freshman year, said. During her Orange Connection experience, Salow visited Performance Marketing, a marketing agency located in West Des Moines.
Despite changes, students said they hope that they will still be able to get the same content from the experience.
“While we cannot physically be in their work environment, we are able to learn about what a day in the job looks like,” Elsa Abrahamson, a third-year student, said. “Even though it will be different, I look forward to learning more about future career paths.”
Reece said she has hope that students will be able to gain the same insight to what different careers have to offer.
“The goal of Orange Connection is to help students discover what they want and don’t want for a future career. I think that having it virtually will still achieve that goal, just in a different way,” Reece said.
While the virtual format was created with the thought of making the experience as normal as possible, some students have doubts about how much they will be able to gain.
“I believe the virtual format will impact my Orange Connection experience because I will not be able to directly communicate in person as well as see how the alumni interacts with their occupation,” Martinez said.
A past participant believes this year will still be helpful.
“My time doing Orange Connection was so fun and I remember it fondly,” Salow said. “I know that it’s different this year, but I think that it will still be a good learning opportunity and I know Veronica Reece will make it as fun and educational as possible.”
According to the Wartburg College Information Center, the Orange Connection Program will allow each student to meet virtually with two alum from around the world to learn more about their career path, their current occupation and trends in their specific field. Each visit will last 45 minutes at no cost. Contact Reece with questions at email@example.com.